Dunlap: All In On Vegas

Forget the rules of fandom with the Golden Knights

Colin Dunlap
April 19, 2018 - 1:15 pm

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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After all this time --- my whole life --- as a Pittsburgher, I don't know what the official rules on Pittsburgh sports fandom are. I don't know if they are written down someplace, if they are kept in some crypt or vault, if they are scribbled in the basement of the Fort Pitt Block House or what. But I'm just taking a guess here: Many would say the No. 1 (and only) rule of being a Pittsburgh sports fan is that you root for the Pittsburgh teams. And only the Pittsburgh teams. It would seem that clearcut; that direct. 

Well, forgive me. 

I am just about all in on the Vegas Golden Knights. I am unequivocally (with one asterisk) and undeniably (with an exception) a full-blown fanboy of the team that, to me, is the best story in sports right now. To be quite frank, I don't even think there is another story in sports coming close to rivaling what Vegas is doing at this moment, as they swept through the Los Angeles Kings and will now face the San Jose Sharks. All this, as you know, in their first season in existence in the desert. 

But it does bring up an interesting quandary for the Yinzer masses who are married solely to all things Pittsburgh sports. Is it ever OK to root for another team? Is it acceptable to pull for not one of our own? And, in this instance, even though the team kinda wears black and gold, is it within reason to stand and cheer for a team or player who doesn't play for a team in Pittsburgh? I say this is the rare exception. 

Here's why: The Golden Knights (most notably with Marc-Andre Fleury and then a little with James Neal) have a heavy 'he used to be one of us' presence, making us feel as if we are close to the players. We have a fandom that transcends because, well, we might still have the jersey of one of those guys. In addition with Fleury, he is one of the nicest men not just in sports, but walking this planet. So, that said, it makes it incredibly easy to wish good things on good people. From that aspect, I have no problem wanting the Vegas Golden Knights to rip through the Western side of the NHL bracket. 

But here is where the asterisk comes in...

You do what you feel comfortable doing as I never tell people how to conduct their own rooting business, but I will want Vegas to win every single game they play in that isn't against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Against the Sharks? I hope they annihilate them. Against Nashville or whomever if it comes to that? I hope Vegas wins every game 11-0. I hope they crush and mangle them. 

If things turn out where the Penguins and Golden Knights --- in a Fleury/Murray matchup made in talk show heaven --- meet in the Stanley Cup Final, that's precisely where I hope Vegas' season comes to one big halt. I would hope they get swept. I would root for Fleury to be terrible. I would want the Penguins to destroy them. That's just how it is. 

So for now, it can be both. It is entirely possible, and in my eyes acceptable, to want the Golden Knights to fare as well as the Penguins. You can root for a team that isn't a Pittsburgh team. Go ahead and do it. I don't think that breaks some Pittsburgh fandom rule.